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Tips + Tricks of Thrift Shopping

Tips + Tricks of Thrift Shopping

Fact: I absolutely love thrift shopping. I’m kind of obsessed with it and have been for many years!

I love finding vintage pieces that are one of a kind and in some ways I find it therapeutic to sift through the racks to find one or two (or five) secondhand gems. It helps to curate a unique wardrobe and can take you on a trip down memory lane. Many of most complimented pieces are in fact, thrifted finds.

Whenever I share my love for thrift shopping, people around me often say they wish they were better at it or don’t know where/how to start. I wanted to write up a post to share some things I’ve learned over the years to hopefully help you on this treasure hunt for vintage pieces. Most importantly, it’s much better for the environment because it saves clothes from our landfills and gives us an ethical way of satisfying a lust for new clothes without embracing fast-fashion culture. I love the sustainable element of it because It’s a good feeling knowing you’re actively participating in being a better consumer when thrifting.  Fast fashion is a hard habit to curb but a goal of mine is that I’m trying to purchase less overall in 2019. Not to mention, you find insane deals on great brands/vintage pieces and spend WAY less than you would at a retail shop. I often spend an evening sifting through a shop and (if i’m lucky) come home with 5 or 6 items, for around $35-$50.

If you’ve never been thrift shopping, you can probably imagine it’s the opposite scene of a curated boutique full of the latest trends. If this is how you shop, then you may never love thrifting but it’s worth a shot to give it a try. If you are pretty certain on your personal style then you may find it a bit easier.

Here are a few tips + tricks I’ve learned:

  1. Give yourself enough time. Expect that it won’t be a quick shop as you’ll be looking through many racks of clothing that are absolutely not your style, just to find one or two pieces that may work. I often go on the weekends or evenings, and give myself plenty of time so I’m not rushed. I always suggest trying everything on, especially when you test out tip #2…

  2. LOOK IN ALL SIZES! Not just your regular size. This one is super important! Often the best pieces are never in my usual size small. All brands fit differently and I’m sure they do the best they can sizing the racks (almost all thrift shops are organized by size, I’ve actually yet to see one that isn’t)  but I promise you need to look a few sizes up or down. I also don’t particularly pay close attention to the sizing on the garment, I try to eyeball it and see if it’s going to work, whether it’s going to be fitted or slightly oversized on me.

  3. Shop in every section. I often find my best gems in the mens section. Mostly for sweaters, casual rugby shirts or the odd jacket but you can’t leave without checking that area because sometimes things get misplaced, or if it’s plain/gender neutral and they happened to stick it in the mens section instead for whatever reason. It totally happens and I recently scored a navy Ralph Lauren quarter zip sweater that definitely wasn’t mens, so I think it’s a tip worth mentioning!

  4. Keep an open mind. I do this every single time I thrift shop. Not every trip will be successful but sometimes my expectations are completely exceeded! You won’t always find what you’re looking for, but that’s honestly half the fun. If you truly can’t find anything, check back to that particular location in as little as a week (as they are always adding donated items daily and the turnover is usually quite high) or try another shop in your area instead.  

  5. Be ready to sift through A LOT of clothing. This may go without saying, but be ready. There are tons of in-style clothing options and some that have gone out of style and back in (real vintage!). You can often find clothing that was made in the decade that’s coming back into style. Remember: Not every trip will be successful. I always go when i’m in the mood to focus. Not every thrift shop is created equal, and some require more digging than others. I tend to focus on textures, materials and colours within the rack that i’m drawn to and pick up those pieces because if i’m already drawn to them, i’m more likely to like the item once I see the full thing. If you do end up finding a few pieces -  ask yourself if you’d buy it new in store. This is a new rule that I’ve been trying to practice more often when I’m thrifting especially when my cart is getting a bit full and it’s time to let some pieces go.

This blog post was mostly focused around used/vintage clothing from thrift shops, but I also LOVE looking through their housewares section.

You can’t pass it up if you’re already there because you can find some amazing glassware/vases (for a fraction of what you’d usually spend) seasonal decor and vintage dishes. If you have a clear understanding of your decor style or the overall look you have within your home, you’ll most likely gravitate towards the right pieces and don’t have to overthink if it’s cute/will match your decor. Plus, even if it’s not exactly perfect - it can make for an amazing DIY project if it needs a bit of paint or fixing up.

If anything - they almost always have cute, quirky and completely bizarre mugs. I’m a total mug collector so I always have a hard time leaving the good ones behind.

Online Thrifting (Yep, it’s a thing!)

As much as I love going to thrift stores to shop, I’ve recently started to follow some curated vintage shops on Instagram so I wanted to share a few that are almost all female run online vintage shops that consistently post amazing pieces. If you’re really not the type of person who likes to sift through racks on racks of used clothing or can’t ever find cute items amongst the hundred of bad and really bad items, this might be a great way to buy vintage. Most list their items through Etsy or a website and are so easy to purchase.

I’ve put together a small list of shops below that I love following along:

Evergreen Vintage - @evergreen.vintage

Noirohio Vintage - @noirohio

The Edit - @shoptheedit (local Hamilton shop!)

Byegone Vintage - @byegone.vintage

Sunday Rest Vintage - @sundayrestvintage

Lady L Vintage Co - @ladylvintageco

A few recent pieces I’ve thrifted (above) and an amazing $4 art print (below) that I’ve incorporated into my dressing room decor.

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The Buffalo Farm: Styled Workshop

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